Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

The second case is that of a young woman popularly known as a "society butterfly" who seemed to have no thought for anything except the gratification of her vanity and the eager quest for pleasure and excitement. Her pastor had long sought unsuccessfully to interest her in some department of parochial work. A few weeks ago this same young woman voluntarily sought him out and begged to be provided with some useful task. "I want something real to do" she said. "I want to feel that I have a share however humble in the extra responsibilities which the war has brought to the Parish." She is now an active worker in the Girls' Friendly Society and is consecrating her great social tact and personal charm to the cause.

The third instance has to do with a man of mature age, the head of a big corporation and intimately associated with a wide range of business interests which demand his close attention and leave him small leisure for recreation and none at all, as he formerly supposed, for outside calls upon his time and energies. That man is now giving two full days every week to a consideration of the industrial and social problems arising out of the war. The duties which he has voluntarily assumed require him to take a long railway journey to a distant city for the purpose of attending a weekly conference on matters which only remotely, if at all, concern his own business affairs. He receives of course no compensation for his services and desires none. He considers himself amply repaid by the consciousness that he is serving the public interests in a way that his large experience and trained business faculties render possible. In the period before the war this man had no time nor energy to spare for matters which did not directly concern his own business. He would always freely give his money to good objects, but hitherto could never be induced to give himself. Now he is learning through the war what self-sacrifice really means and it is safe to say that in future he will not continue to stand aloof from movements for the general good in which he may conceivably be useful.

It is a commonplace that times of national trial are often those when the spirit of a nation is reborn and the life of a whole community is lifted to higher levels. We see this conspicuously

in the case of France and perhaps not less in the case of England. Now in some degree and growing naturally out of similar conditions we are beginning to notice the evidence of a like spirit among our own people. Surely if slowly a nobler conception of life is permeating all classes of society. Thousands to-day are gaining larger visions of what their citizenship means. Many are growing ashamed of the selfishness and frivolity which have hitherto marked their attitude. They have come to realize as never before the shame of sloth and the pettiness of mere personal ambition. The call to devotion and selfsacrifice which the war brings is now finding an echo in many hearts which previously were concerned mainly with thoughts of their own personal comfort and security. There is an enlargement of sympathies, a fervent desire to be helpful to others. Many who never before thought of lifting a hand to aid worthy and charitable causes are now asking passionately to be told how they may be useful in the present great emergency. Out of the distress and anxiety which the war has brought a process of regeneration is taking place. Great sacrifices are being made gladly, the sense of national solidarity is being quickened by the common peril and there is a conspicuous absence of snobbery and pettiness. The selective draft places all upon the same level of service and there is hardly a family, rich or poor, which is not represented in the national army. Though the country has been in the war less than six months and our influence in a military sense has not yet begun to be actively exercised, no one who has watched the trend of events can have failed to note the chastened spirit of the American people. The war fever has been conspicuous by its absence. We are confident, as it is proper we should be, but in no sense boastful. Indeed the sobriety and lack of excitement which characterize these days is remarkable to those who recall the feverish agitation and popular clamor which marked the outset and progress of our little war with Spain some twenty years since. We are determined to defeat our enemies, but for the most part there is no hatred of them. We are fighting for a principle, for an ideal, and feel no inclination to indulge in

personal animosities. Americans will never sing a "hymn of hate."

Surely these manifestations are all good and their presence reveals a wonderful change in the national attitude. Half consciously a new sense of what is praiseworthy and good is being instilled into the body politic. We are reaching out, under the înfluence of our distress and anxiety for a nobler conception of life. Self sacrifice is appearing in a new light as a glorious manifestation of the godlike in man. We are learning the difficult lesson that service in behalf of others is the most beautiful thing in life, that those only are to be esteemed worthy who forget themselves in order that they may do and give most for a common cause. The ideal of Him who came "not to be ministered unto but to minister" is being set before us and illustrated by a thousand examples.

Unconscious though we may be of the fact, these manifestations are of the essence of true religion and surely betoken a revival of its spirit in the hearts of men. Seriousness is the first step in any movement toward the spiritual goal and seriousness is what we have attained. Humility and reverence are the conditions of drawing near to God as pride and frivolity are those which make approach to Him impossible.

Perhaps there is to be observed small evidence as yet of any great increase in the observance of religious rites and practices. Perhaps the attendance at the Sunday services of the Church is yet far from being satisfactory. It may well be that many of those who are unselfishly devoting themselves to the various philanthropic objects which war conditions have created have not yet felt the need of seeking the great source of spiritual inspiration and strength in the worship of the Church and at its altars. Nevertheless the ground is surely being prepared for a revival of true religion and the signs of such revival are not lacking. Our people are welcoming in greater numbers the opportunities offered on weekdays for special prayer and intercession. Churches that are open daily for private devotion note an increase in those thus using them. Congregations if not larger than formerly show a spirit of greater seriousness and

seem to welcome sermons which deal definitely with the fundamental themes of religion. What is known as "doctrinal preaching" commonly regarded as distasteful to the average church goer is listened to with apparent interest. If in most quarters sermons dealing directly with the war are deprecated on the ground that this topic absorbs the attention of the readers of newspapers and periodicals almost to the exclusion of every other subject there is yet a disposition to grant a respectful hearing to the preacher who can draw an appropriate moral lesson from it or show its bearing upon the religious and spiritual life.

The fear expressed by many that the charitable and missionary work of the Church is liable to be hampered by the call for contributions coming from innumerable quarters connected with the necessities of the war seems to be unfounded. On the contrary there are signs that the financial needs of the Church will not be ignored, but rather be provided for in abounding measure. People are forming the habit of giving in these days and the Church will share in the benefit.

Above all it would appear that many to-day are learning as never before something of the power of prayer. The instinct to seek out God in times of trouble is almost universal. In the hurry of life and when all goes well with us, God is apt to be forgotten or at most approached in a purely conventional way. But when the need is pressing and man comes to realize his own helplessness in the presence of gigantic forces which he cannot control, he is prone to turn to God for comfort and reassurance., "In my prosperity I said I shall never be removed." That is the assertion of presumption, of one who deems he has a prescriptive right to benefits. "Thou didst turn Thy face from me and I was troubled." That is the acknowledgment of man's helplessness apart from God. "Then cried I unto my Lord and gat me to my God right humbly." That is a plea for succor made under the spur of dire necessity. Doubtless there are multitudes who in these days of distress anl uncertainty have been brought to their knees, who otherwise would have continued to go their heedless way unmindful of God and ungrateful for all the blessings they enjoy.

The purposes of God are fulfilled in many ways. He is ever seeking out the souls of men, ever contriving to draw them to Himself. Love reveals itself under many strange forms. The bitter as well as the sweet has its place in the divine plan. If out of the misery of this war shall emerge a world chastened by suffering, led into righteous ways by the stern rod of divine discipline, purified in the fierce fires of affliction, who will venure to reproach the Almighty for not preventing the catastrophe, which, though it has filled the earth with anguish unspeakable, will yet have been the occasion of a vast renewal of spiritual life? "The fierceness of man," exclaims the Psalmist, "shall turn to Thy praise." Yes, even out of this terrible war Christians believe ample compensation will come. Already some of the spiritual gains are apparent and as time goes on we shall doubtless recognize many more.

Hamilton Schuyler.

TH

Christian Perfection

A Meditation

1

"Blessed are those that are perfect 1 in their way,
Who walk in the law of the LORD." Ps. 119:1.

What is meant by a Christ is the ideal and

HE recurrence of Saints' Days turns our thoughts ever and anon to the ideal of saintliness. saint? What is it to be a saint? pattern of sainthood; He is our great High Priest who has established divine righteousness, and by His one sacrifice upon the cross has taken away sin. Our Lord says of Himself: "I am Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." The two letters of the Greek alphabet Alpha and Omega comprise all that comes between them. So there are two letters in the Hebrew alphabet, Aleph, the first, and Tau, the last; and they include all that comes between them. The first stands for the light of dawn; for the word light in Hebrew begins with the first

1 See Revised Version in loc.

« AnteriorContinuar »